Glasgow City Council is delighted to be able to loan to the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, work by two of the best-known contemporary artists from Glasgow – A moment´s silence (for someone close to you) by Douglas Gordon and Gobstopper by Roderick Buchanan. Both works have recently been acquired for the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, in recognition of the artists’ international standing.
Gordon and Buchanan have made a crucial contribution to Glasgow’s worldwide reputation as a centre for visual arts. The city is particularly important for the production and exhibition of contemporary art. This is reflected in the nomination of two Glasgow-based artists for the 2005 Turner Prize. One of these artists, Simon Starling, won the award to become (after Douglas Gordon) the second Glasgow-based winner in less than ten years.
The success of the visual arts in Glasgow can be attributed to a number of causes. There is the support of dynamic institutions such as the Glasgow School of Art and the contemporary performing and visual arts venue Tramway. Also critical are the self-led activities of artist peer groups, project spaces and artist-run galleries such as Transmission Gallery that have provided a valuable platform and support structure for artists for more than 20 years. And in addition, the city itself is full of cultural and social vibrancy – the visual arts scene runs parallel to, and is stimulated by, other thriving art forms and a dynamic environment. These factors have created conditions in which artists over the last two decades have been able to produce exciting and innovative work.
Curator of Contemporary Art
Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow
Our awareness of the occasions when the phrase ‘a moment’s silence for someone close to you’ is used may bring preconceptions to the work. We may assume we are being invited to remember a relative, friend or loved one who has died. However, Gordon has chosen an ambiguous sentence – one that does not actually specify that our ‘someone’ is lost to us. Whichever way the words are interpreted, Gordon uses language to provoke us into a moment of introspective thought.
A moment’s silence is a combination of Gordon’s reocurring fascination with written words and the method of displaying work in such a way that it physically involves the viewer. It highlights his interest in the fine line between opposing notions and concepts: life and death, black and white, crying and laughing, past and future.
Gobstopper, 1999, is one of Roderick Buchanan’s most playful works. It documents different children as they are driven through Glasgow’s Clyde Tunnel (which connects the north and south of the city).
The children play a game that involves holding their breath for the duration of the journey. Whilst some seem to achieve this, others cheat or ‘lose’ with expressions of amusement or frustration.
Buchanan’s focus on this game, which he remembers from growing up in Glasgow, is similar to his treatment of professional sports such as rugby and cycling in other works. His attention is on the structure of these games and sports. He makes us think of the wider implications of such competitions between family, friends or local and national teams.